„You have to crane your neck to see the folks at the very top…and you can see that they’re bracing their hands on the ceiling, so far up are they…just amazing.“
- 12:19, 21 MAR 2022
Exactly a month ago today, on Monday, February 21, 2022, The Stranglers played their final ever gig in Bristol as part of their ‘Final Full UK Tour’.
It was a night that had been some two years in the making, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and one that had also seen a change in the band’s line-up following the death of keyboardist, Dave Greenfield in 2020.
Following their show at the O2 Academy in the city, singer Baz took to his online blog to write about his experience – and previous experiences – playing for a Bristol crowd. He called it „one of [his] favourite places to play“ and said „it’s just amazing“.
Baz has been documenting the band’s entire tour – even in parts right down to their downtime and travel experience (even tooth troubles) – on The Stranglers official website. He’s written about rehearsing in Bath, just down the road, the „sobering thought“ of The Stranglers maybe never playing in London again and even about opening up the Cambridge Corn Exchange’s hospitality bar in Dave’s memory (this was his home gig).
But when it came to Bristol, which the band happened to play this year on bassist JJ Burnel’s 70th birthday, this is what Baz had to say: „This has long been one of my favourite places to play, don’t ask me why. It’s got the same nonchalant, couldn’t really give a f*** attitude to it, like most of the other O2s have.
„Not much thought has gone into the comfort and safety of the artists or crowds…as long as the numbers come through the door. It never ceases to amaze me how, on walking into the venue, you never think they’ll get the people in that they’ve told you to expect…it just looks so small.
„It’s pokey and rough around the edges…but again, at show time, it’s just amazing.
„I think for me it’s the proximity of the crowd, and how every conceivable space is filled with people. You have to crane your neck to see the folks at the very top…and you can see that they’re bracing their hands on the ceiling, so far up are they…just amazing.
„It’s also a certain persons birthday tonight, and it’s a biggun…so the evening, sort of rightly so, seems to centre around that.
„Not that he’s too swept away by it, being the celebrated birthday curmudgeon he is, but he takes it in his stride, and it’s fair to say, I saw in his face how touched he was that the whole audience sang happy birthday to him. Then it was gone…ha ha..and he celebrated by taking his shirt off for the encores, just so everyone could see how well this particular septuagenarian has faired over the years.
„Even more amazingly, the whole band gather in the hotel bar later to toast him over a late drink. Nice end to another great evening.
„I’ll be particularly sad not to play this venue again, if that’s what happens. It’s always held affection for me…and as always, that’s down to the crowds that come.
„Every single time we’ve played here it’s sold out in a heartbeat…and how they can get 2000 people in is beyond me. I hope our paths cross again Bristol O2…but don’t hold your breath.“